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Regan O'Brien

Regan O'Brien

Year: 2013
Hometown: Vienna, VA
Major: Engineering Science, Concentration in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Chemistry and Materials Science

What are your intellectual interests?

Doing research in the field of medicine really interests me. I also enjoy learning about the history behind it all and how the fields have developed through time. Aside from medicine and science some of my biggest areas of interest are politics and global development.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve found at U.Va.?

How small the campus feels. I love that you can walk to class and see so many faces you’ve never seen before, but still see all the familiar faces you want to see. It makes you feel a lot more comfortable with the size of the university.

Where are your closest U.Va. friends from?

I have a lot of friends who came from my high school and surrounding high schools in Northern Virginia, but I also have friends from the New England area and even as far as Southern California.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, which book would you want to have with you?

Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley

Where do you go to study for exams?

I work really well in Clark library. I like to go down into the stacks and find a cubby to work in. If I seclude myself I get a lot more work done. I also like to just study at home in my bed.

Did you visit U.Va. before deciding to attend?

Yes, I made several visits to U.Va. I came with my mom and with some friends.

WHY U.Va.?

I knew I wanted to stay in-state if it was possible, so I focused on U.Va. the most. I just loved the feel of the Grounds and the student body. I liked the size of it. It felt just right—not too big, not too small. I also fell in love with the biomedical engineering program from the very beginning. The lab work and research opportunities available to the students blew me away.

Describe your favorite professor.

My favorite professor is Dr. William Guilford. He taught my Cell Molecular Biology class. He was an amazing professor. He was so comfortable teaching and you could tell it was something he was meant to do. He put an amazing amount of effort into the class and was always encouraging students to get involved in lab work.

What was your favorite class?

My favorite class was actually Dr. Guilford’s class, Cell Molecular Biology. It was a disease-based class so he started every biology topic with some sort of disease linked to it and would tie it all together by the end of the class. It directly related biology and physiology to pathology.

What activities are you involved in?

I am an advisor for the Honor System. I was involved in Sustained Dialogue. I am a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority.

What is your favorite extracurricular and why?

Being an advisor for Honor is my favorite activity. I love being involved in the cases and the process of the entire system. I got involved right away first year and have stayed involved since. It has also led me to meet some really great people.

Have you taken the opportunity to get career advice while a student?

The only career advice I have received thus far is from professors. They are always very enthusiastic to talk to their students and get them involved as early as possible.

How would you describe the students that attend U.Va.?

The students here come from all over the spectrum. There is definitely someone for everyone. The most common characteristic among us all is the drive we all share. The students are so committed to their work and want to be one of the best.


How is college different from high school?

The workload is a huge adjustment. I took challenging classes in high school but the time I had available to do the work was different. There wasn’t much need for time management because I was on a strict schedule. When coming to college I had to figure out how to balance the big workload with the activities I had access to. There is a lot more to be involved in now that I’m in college so it was hard to get myself on a strict schedule in the beginning.


What was your first-year living situation like?

I lived in Cauthen, which is part of the Alderman Road dorms, but is a new building. It was hall-style, which I loved. I used the random U.Va. survey to find my roommate. We got along great and never had any big problems. We had different friends that we would go out with but when it came to hanging out in our room we had so much fun. We lived together very well.


What is your favorite memory from your time at Virginia?

I think move-in day first year is still my favorite memory. I was so incredibly excited to unpack my dorm. It took me hours to find a home for everything but then it was crazy when it was all done. Waking up the first morning and realizing that it was going to be every morning was very surreal.   


Have you lived on or off Grounds each year?

My second year I lived off-Ground in an apartment on Wertland Street. This I moved into my sorority house off-Grounds.


What is your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

I love just being outside in general. The area is so beautiful that any activity outside gets me excited. You have the beautiful city of Charlottesville and then just a short drive away you have the amazing Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s the best of both worlds.


What’s your favorite restaurant in Charlottesville?

My favorite restaurant is the Local. It is absolutely delicious. My favorite meal is the truffle mac n’cheese.


Is it easy to get to Charlottesville?

I have driven in an out of Charlottesville and I have also flown out of the Charlottesville airport. The airport is small but can accommodate most flights. I have also driven to the Richmond and DC airports. I have never had a problem making it home. There is always someone going the same direction as you.

What do you do in your free time?

I try to hang out with my friends as much as I can in my free time. I don’t get much free time during the week because of schoolwork, but when I do I like to see my friends and just relax. We get together and watch movies, make dinner, or just talk. If I’m really tired I usually catch up on all my shows online.

What is the competition in your classes like?

The competition in classrooms is as expected. The students that go here are some of the brightest students from their high schools. When you put all of them together into one classroom it is going to be natural for them all to want to be one of the best and brightest again. Although the competition is there, it isn’t overwhelming. In fact, it helps a lot of students stay on top of their work.

What is something unique about U.Va. that few people know about?

Probably the thing that surprises and interests visitors the most is our abundance of secret societies. I get so excited telling visitors about them because it is something so unique about U.Va. It is something very few people have heard of and they usually get really into it when you tell them all about them. They are so mysterious and fun but also do amazing things for the university.

How can a student stay active? What sports are popular?

I love going to the gym here on campus. I don’t play any team sports but there are plenty of other ways to stay active. You will always see people running around grounds on a nice day. The gyms are so nice and the equipment is so new that it makes going to the gym and taking classes more exciting.

Is it hard to be a student on a small budget?

It’s something you have to get used to but in the end it doesn’t really make a difference. One of the cool things about Charlottesville is how much there is to do for free. There are free concerts and festivals. You can go hiking or tubing. As long as you’re creative you can do a lot. The Corner is also affordable as long as you monitor how often you’re eating out and make an effort to use your meal plan as much as possible.

Can you have a car at all? Do you need one?

I have a parking space at my apartment so I could have a car if I wanted to, but I don’t think I would use one enough to make it worthwhile. There is always a way to get to the store or shopping etc.

What is the Greek system like?

I am involved in Greek life here and I love it. There is a great mix on campus of people involved in Greek life and people who are not. I have tons of friends who decided not to get involved and I still see them all the time. They even come to some of my sorority’s events. The Greek system is also a great way to network. You meet so many new people and you form relationships that you will have for a long time.

Are you involved in community service? How?

The majority of the community service I am involved in is through my sorority. Our philanthropy is Service for Sight, which benefits the seeing disabled. We also do a weekly visit with the Martha Jefferson house where we go and have tea with some of the residents. I am hoping to get more involved this coming semester. I have heard nothing but great things about Madison House and really want to start tutoring for Charlottesville students.